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General William L. Cabell
The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Forty-Fourth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 11th, 1913.
William Lewis Cabell was born at Danville, Virginia, January 1st, 1827. His father was Benjamin W. S. Cabell, whose wife was Sarah Doswell Eppes. The Cabells have ever been one of the most distinguished families of Virginia, their ancestor, a surgeon in the British navy, having settled at Jamestown soon after its founding in 1607. General Cabell was a lineal descendant of the famous Indian princess Pocahontas. General Cabell is survived by four children and as many grandchildren.
The children are Ben E. Cabell, of Dallas; Mrs. Katie Cabell Muse, wife of Judge J. C. Muse, of Dallas; Lawrence Du Val Cabell, Captain and Quartermaster Tenth Infantry, and Lewis Rector Cabell.
General Cabell entered the U. S. Military at the age of 19, graduating in 1850. Assigned to the Seventh Infantry as Second Lieutenant, promoted First Lieutenant in '55 and appointed Regimental Quartermaster.
In March, 1858, was appointed Captain in the Quartermaster's department and assigned to duty on the staff of general P. F. Smith then in command of the Utah Expedition. After General Smith's death General Harney assumed command and Captain Cabell remained on his staff till the close of the expedition. He was then ordered to rebuild Fort Kearney, Nebraska.
p36 In the spring of 1859 he was ordered to Fort Arbuckle, in the Chickasaw Nation, and in the fall of the same year to build a new post •about ten miles west of Arbuckle in the Indian Nation. He remained on duty at his new post, which was called Fort Cobb, until March, 1861.
When war between the States became inevitable, Captain Cabell removed to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and from that place sent his resignation to the War Department, D. C. Then he went to Little Rock, Arkansas, and offered his services to the Governor of the State. On receipt of a telegram from President Jefferson Davis he left on April 12th for the seat of the Confederate Government at Montgomery, Alabama. Captain Cabell reached Montgomery on the night of April 19th, and there he found the acceptance of his resignation from the United States Army, signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
President Davis made him a Major and assigned him to the duty of organizing the Quartermaster, Commissary and Ordnance Departments at Richmond where he remained till June 1st, after which he was Chief Quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac under General Beauregard. He was present at the Battle of Blackburn Ford and Bull Run, July 18th and 21st where he rendered most efficient service.
He then served on the staff of General Joseph E. Johnston until January 15th, 1862, when he reported to General Albert Sidney Johnston, commanding the Army of the West, for duty with General Earl Van Dorn in the Trans-Mississippi Department.
Soon after this he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and was assigned to the command of all the troops on White River, with the special and important mission of holding the enemy in check until after the Battle of Elk Horn.
p37 After that battle, which was fought March 6 and 7, 1862, the army was transferred to the eastern side of the Mississippi River, and the task of transferring it developedº upon General Cabell. Within a week Price's Missouri and McCulloch's Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas Troops and his own command were safely and successfully transferred from different points on the White River to the eastern bank of the Mississippi.
When General Van Dorn's Army marched from Memphis to Corinth General Cabell accompanied it in command of a Texas brigade with an Arkansas regiment attached. He commanded this brigade in the several engagements around Corinth and Farmington. In this responsible position he displayed the highest soldierly qualities.
When General Bragg's Army marched to Kentucky General Cabell was transferred to an Arkansas Brigade which he commanded in the Battle of Iuka and Saltillo in September and at Corinth, September 2 and 3, and at Hatchie's Bridge on September 14.
He was wounded in the breast at Corinth while leading the charge of his brigade with conspicuous dash and courage, and was wounded again at Hatchie's Bridge.
His wounds having unfitted him for active field service, the remnants of his command were assigned temporarily to the First Mississippi Brigade under General Bowen, he was ordered to the Trans-Mississippi Department to recuperate and inspect the staff department of that army.
When sufficiently recovered for duty in Northwest Arkansas he was instructed to augment his command by recruits from every part of that section of the State. He was very successful and organized one of the largest and finest cavalry brigades west of the Mississippi. He commanded this brigade at Backbone Mountain, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Knob, Rieves' Station, Franklin, Poison Springs, Jefferson, p38Poteau River, Antoine, Elkins' Ferry, Marks' Mill, Pilot, Mo., Garner's Mills, Currant River, Boonville, Lexington, Mo., Big Blue, Independence, West Point, Marie De Cygne and other places in Arkansas and Missouri.
On the raid into Missouri he was captured in the open field near Mine Creek on October 24, 1864, and taken to Johnson's Island, in Lake Erie, and from there to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, where he remained until August 28, 1865.
Soon after the war General Cabell moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and engaged in the practice of law there with Major Wm. Glass as a partner. In 1872 he removed to Dallas, Texas, which has since been his home. He was three times elected Mayor of Dallas, 1874 to 1882. He was United States Marshal for the Northern District of Texas, during Cleveland's first administration, which office he very promptly resigned upon Harrison's election, with the characteristic comment, "To the victor belongs the spoils." He was sent as a delegate to the conventions that nominated Tilden at St. Louis in 1884 and Cleveland at Chicago in 1892.
General Cabell was Vice-President and General Manager of the Texas Trunk Railroad for four years. He was for years a member of Dallas Lodge No. 71, B. P. O. E.
At the meeting of the United Confederate Veterans in July, 1890, General Cabell was unanimously elected Lieutenant-General of the Trans-Mississippi Division — and was continuously re-elected to this high command by his comrades at every meeting of the Veterans. At their last meeting he was elected honorary Commander-in‑Chief of the United Confederate Veterans — the highest office in the gift of the organization. For many years General Cabell devoted his great organizing abilities to the welfare of this beneficent organization of the survivors of the great war and was throughout the whole South recognized and loved as one of its main pillars.
p39 So great was his devotion to the Lost Cause, to the surviving comrades of that mighty struggle, with their impoverished widows and orphans — so sympathetic with all their struggles to world once more the New South on the foundations of the Old that it was often said of him: "He lived in the past." In a great and true sense this was so; as he was ever ready to lay aside any business of his own, however pressing, to give his whole time and energy to helping those stricken by the disasters of the heroic struggle. The establishment of the Home for Confederate Veterans at Austin was largely due to the untiring efforts of General Cabell to better the condition of his comrades in arms.
He worked unceasingly to this end and was very happy when the institution was finally established.
Another great work for which he labored successfully was the creation of a fund in Texas for pensions for Confederate soldiers.a
Since 1872 General Cabell has lived at Dallas, Texas. There surrounded by his loving wife and children he led for many years the domestic life of a true Christian patriarch. To no other man came a higher reward of great love and intense devotion by his wife and children; nor has any family been more blessed in the constant example of a devoted husband and a loving father furnished by the pure Christian life he led. His beloved wife died in 1887 and from that day to the hour of his death, there was ever in the home the loving care of one or more of his children. The unremitting, constant, devoted care of his only daughter, Katie, during the long years after the death of his wife, is one of the priceless memories and the most cherished recollections to all of the thousands of his friends throughout the South. The love, the pride, the tenderness with which she so wholly dedicated herself to the comfort and happiness of her father sets a new mark for all daughters for all time to come.
p40 To inspire such love and devotion even in a daughter is a guarantee of greatness and goodness to which few mortals ever attain.
General Cabell died at his home in Dallas, Texas, about 9:30 P.M., February 22nd, 1911. Ten weeks before he had suffered a severe attack of bronchitis but rallied from this and became better. This left his heart very weak and told seriously on his vitality.
The evening of the 22nd his son, Ben., and daughter, Katie, were sitting in an adjoining room when the latter was moved to go to her father. She entered the room just as he drew his last breath.
There was no struggle, no evidence that death had come. Lying in an easy attitude, with arms folded across his breast, he seemed more to be sleeping peacefully than to have entered the realm of eternal rest. Beneath the flowing gray locks a half smile showed on the face.
The expression denoted contentment, almost a welcome to an end that he had expected and for which he was in all things prepared.
That he believed the end to be approaching was told in his actions when first stricken some ten weeks before. His children who had been called home were summoned to his bedside and he admonished them not to ask God that he might linger. He told them that the Great Father had been kind to him, and had given him in excess of the three-score years and ten allotted to mortals. For this he asked his children to offer up thanks to the Almighty. His last words to them on this occasion were "Strive all of you to keep yourselves and the government pure" — thus in a sentence emphasizing and confirming the great lesson of his noble life, the sanctity of the home and the stern he demanded of all public officers.
p41 As soon as the press announced General Cabell's death telegrams and letters of sympathy and condolence began to come in from every Southern State and many Northern ones; from Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Legislatures, Camps and Commanderies of Veterans, Confederate and Federal, individual veteran survivors of the great war, from men prominent in all walks of life, from surrounding daughters of veterans, from relatives and friends until it seemed that the universal sorrow must find in this way the immediate expression of its profound grief.
This great outpouring of the hearts of his thousands of friends will ever be cherished by his children as a precious balm in hour of their great loss. The body lay in state until the 26th, the casket draped with a large Confederate flag, surrounded by masses of flowers and watched over by a guard of honor from Confederate Veterans. At 8:30, the morning of the 26th, a funeral mass was said at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. At 1:30 P.M. the Catholic burial service began. In compliance with General Cabell's wish that all who desired might take one last look on his face, the casket was placed on the veranda. Those entering and those soon to leave life, little children who knew him only as their tender loving friend, old Confederate veterans who had followed him on many stricken fields and hundreds of heart-broken friends filed by in solemn procession saving their last farewell to one so greatly honored and beloved by them all.
While the band played "Nearer my God to Thee," the procession started. Following the caisson, draped in the two flags — the U. S. and the Confederate — came his riderless horse, remindful of the dead Cavalry Officer, then the Infantry and Artillery of the Texas National Guard, the Confederate Veterans, with them being mingled Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic.
p42 Following the members of his family came state, city and country officials, prominent men from all over the State, members of the Dallas Lodge of Elks, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Woodmen of the World, Spanish War Veterans and thousands of citizens, the procession requiring thirty-five minutes to pass a given point.
At the conclusion of the religious ceremony at the cemetery a salute of six guns was fired followed by three volleys of musketry fired by the Confederate Guard. Another salute of six guns followed by the sad, sweet strains of Taps — the soldier's last farewell.
In paying a tribute to a great man whom God has called to his Last Rest, after a long life of strenuous work the embarrassment is to select the few words most fitting to express concisely the great range of this work, its difficulties and hardships, its trials and its victories, the intensity and nobility of the efforts made and above all to estimate correctly the great and lasting influence upon posterity of a long and noble life.
From his boyhood to the day of his death General Cabell was a worker; whether as a student, a cadet, an officer of the U. S. Army, in the four years of war, as a lawyer, a mayor, a railroad man, a U. S. Marshall, a commander of United Confederate Veterans — the dominant traits of his character, industry, devotion to duty and the sternest integrity, marked his daily work. Love of humanity was part of his life; children adored him because he had that rare magnetism which attracted them.
While he was stern in war, exacting the utmost from his men, yet as he always led in times of danger and was sympathetic in times of distress his men idolized him.
Though his life work covered such a multitude of different occupations and though he shone in all, I think the welfare and happiness of his old comrades in arms and their p43suffering widows and children were closest to his heart and engaged his most earnest attention for the forty last years of his long life.
Always true, loyal to duty and patriotic in his devotion to his people, he embodied the highest type of the chivalry of the South; the flower of the entire nation.
A loving husband and father, a patriotic citizen, an official of the sternest integrity, a truly glorious soldier, a philanthropist with a heart of gold, in the truest sense a very great and good man, he has answered the last roll call and passed over the river to stand with Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and all that glorious immortal host of heroes of the Lost Cause, secure forever, in the deep love and admiration of all who knew him and an inspiration for years to come to the youth of this beloved South land.
Death came so softly, set its signet on his brow, kissed his soul away and left a smile upon his lips saying, "All is well. Yes; all is well."
Dr. R. C. Cabell.
a Not suitable for an obituary was mention of the Louisiana State Lottery, of which he was the very well paid commissioner, but that eventually involved him in Federal prosecutions for fraud: see Kendall, History of New Orleans, Vol. I, p489.
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